Blocking, Unblocking, and Overexpectation of Fear: A Role for Opioid Receptors in the Regulation of Pavlovian Association Formation

  • McNally G
  • Pigg M
  • Weidemann G
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Injection of the opioid receptor antagonist naloxone facilitated acquisition of fear to contextual and auditory conditioned stimuli (CSs) in Experiments 1A and 1B. Experiment 2 showed that prior conditioning to a distinctive context blocked conditioning to an auditory CS. Blocking of CS fear was prevented by administrations of naloxone or increases in footshock intensity. Blocking of CS fear was facilitated by decreases in footshock intensity in a naloxone-reversible manner. Experiment 3 showed that compound conditioning of two CSs, each previously and separately paired with shock, produced overexpectation of fear that was reversed by naloxone. These results are consistent with a role for opioid receptors controlling Pavlovian association formation by regulating the discrepancy (lambda - SigmaV) described by R. A. Rescorla and A. R. Wagner (1972).

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  • Gavan P. McNally

  • Michael Pigg

  • Gabrielle Weidemann

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